You have questions, I have answers. I dig into my mailbag to respond to some of your most vexing questions. Can Nebraska still make it to the Big Ten title game? Should the Big Ten have stripped Joe Paterno’s name from its championship game trophy, which it made official earlier this week? I answer those queries, and others, in this week’s mailbag.
If Penn State wins one of its last two games, and Wisconsin wins its last two, both teams’ records will be the same. In that instance, which team would advance to Indianapolis to represent the Leaders Division in the Big Ten title game? – Michael Garnett
Dienhart: In that scenario, Wisconsin would go to Indianapolis because it would hold the tiebreaker over Penn State by virtue of beating the Nittany Lions in the regular-season finale. Tie-breakers can be found over here.
I feel it is WRONG to rename the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy, given to the team that wins the Big Ten title game, until Joe Paterno has been proven to have done an injustice. No more need be said? – Paul Hackett
We all are entitled to our opinion, but I think Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said it best when the conference announced that it was dropping Paterno’s name from the hardware and just calling it the Stagg Championship Trophy:
“We believe that it would be inappropriate to keep Joe Paterno’s name on the trophy. The trophy and its namesake are intended to be celebratory and aspirational, not controversial.”
What has to happen for Nebraska to be able to play in the Big Ten championship game, or is it even possible? – Michael Severin
It can still happen. First, Nebraska needs to win out, and that means prevailing at Michigan this weekend and at home vs. Iowa on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Next, Michigan State has lose one its last two games: vs. Indiana this week or at Northwestern in the regular-season finale. It that happens, the Spartans and Cornhuskers will tie—and Nebraska holds the tiebreaker based on its head-to-head win over Michigan State earlier this season. And that would send the Huskers to Naptown for the title game in their first season in the Big Ten. Not bad.
What is Penn State’s conference record since joining the Big Ten through 2010? – Clark Bennett
Penn State began Big Ten play in 1993. Entering the 2011 season, the Nittany Lions’ league record was 90-54 with three conference titles (1994, 2005, 2008). In that same time span, Northwestern won as many Big Ten titles, and Wisconsin won four.
Do you think it is “coincidental” that after all the years of alleged abuse by Jerry Sandusky and the length of time many were aware, state and university officials didn’t take action until days after Joe Paterno set the record for all-time wins in Division I? – Glenn
All I’ll say is this: I think it’s interesting food for thought.
Your predictions for bowl games change each week. A real expert makes his predictions at the beginning of the season and leaves it at that. – D. Glowacki
Games are played each week, bowl scenarios change each week. We think fans would get more enjoyment from bowl projections that reflect the weekly machinations of wins and losses to better portray what the bowls may look like up to the minute. Plus, if we only made bowl projections back in August, you wouldn’t have any reason to check back each week!
As you know, Purdue has beaten Ohio State two times in the last three years. Has any other team accomplished that feat in the last 10 years or so? – Marlene Troike
USC knocked off the Buckeyes in back-to-back years in 2008-09, but Ohio State pretty much has had it way with most Big Ten teams since it began dominating the conference in 2005 with six league titles in a row. You have to look to Wisconsin to find a league team that has had success similar to Purdue’s in recent years. The Badgers knocked off the Buckeyes in consecutive seasons in 2003-04.
No doubt, Purdue’s feat of two wins in three years is impressive. Now, the Boilermakers need some consistency. They often seem as apt to win a game they shouldn’t as they are to lose one they shouldn’t. See Northern Illinois (2009), Toledo (2010), Rice (2011).
Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here. and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.